nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Risk of Cancer from 2 Sodas a week?

A researcher at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health has "studied the dietary habits of more than 60,000 adults in Singapore for 14 years," finding that risk of pancreatic cancer is almost doubled for those subjects who drank 2 or more sugared soft drinks a week.  The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association of Cancer Research.  I'm not familiar with either the journal or the group.  Note that among the 60K subjects we're talking about only 140 cases of cancer occurred...not hens-teeth rare, but much less common than the risk of driving a car.  The hazard ratio was 1.87, which is respectable enough, but the confidence interval was very broad (1.10-3.15).  The lower end of the interval is near to "1", which means no increased hazard.  I'm leary of studies whose statistics aren't tight.

Interestingly, they looked at juices (and "other dietary items"...I don't know what, this was only an abstract), and found no association with cancer.  The author, who is a specialist in "the dietary causes of disease" speculated that juices are served in smaller portions, have less sugar and contain other things.  It appears they cloned in on sugar pretty quick, not considering other things in soft drinks.

I don't know what juices Singaporeans (?) drink, but most juices I've tasted are so sweet it makes your tongue curl.  Maybe not in Singapore.

Also, for some reason they didn't invoke the perfect experimental control:  sugar-free sodas.  If sugary sodas increase risk and sugar-free don't...voila! 

Didn't happen.

One last comment before I wrap up:  I'm not aware of an accepted specialty in Dietary Caused Disease, although he could just have an interest in this New Age subject.  But it sounds like one of those fringe things.

In summary, this is a good way to waste 14 years worth of research (tax?) dollars in Singapore.  Maybe it's a great place to vacation. 

We need a better study than this.  Drinking a lot of sodas (i.e., >1 a day),  probably isn't a great idea.  I don't think we've nailed down the kidney stone formation relationship yet, but there's some connection between that and sodas.  But, I'm not convinced that 2 a week is the threshold for pancreatic cancer risk.

Doc D

Opinons are entirely my own

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